How to Be Fully Present This Holiday Season

“Wherever you are, be all there” —Jim Elliot

By Hannah Zahner

Holiday invites. Cookie baking marathons. Family gatherings. Office parties. Kid’s holiday plays. Our December calendars can book up so quickly. In this season of hustle, bustle and making-merry, it’s so easy to get caught in the busyness and find yourself on Christmas Day feeling anything but merry & bright. Sure the perfectly wrapped presents, five course meals, and expertly chosen gifts are great, it turns out though that the people we love usually value our presence more than anything else. This year, rather than getting caught up in working for the season, let this time actually serve you. Read on for six ways to choose less stress, and more presence this holiday season.

featured image by Martha Stewart

christmas tree decorated roomimage by New Darlings

Cultivate Thankfulness

Gratitude connects us to our surroundings. Take a deep breath and notice what’s around you – the sights and scents and sounds. What stands out to you? What’s bringing you joy in that moment? There is always, always something to be thankful for. Start the simple practice of waking up every morning and thinking of one thing you’re grateful for before you even get out of bed. Or better yet, start a gratitude journal!

holiday greenery bunchimage by Laura Dominguez

One word: Prioritize

Remember, saying yes to one thing always means saying no to something or someone else – whether that’s time coloring with your littles, an unrushed chat over hot cider with a friend, or a relaxing bath. No, you won’t be able to do everything. Your energy and time is valuable, so take a couple minutes to sit down and jot down what your priorities are this season. Shake off that guilt if you just don’t have time to bake cookies for your office christmas party – it’s not the end of the world if you pick up something pre-made! And be firm yourself when you feel the urge to fudge your boundaries (if you find this especially tough in your life, here’s five ways to help you say no). 

peppermint hot chocolate mugsimage by Hannah Haston

Indulge a Little

Christmas is full of so many amazing sights and sounds, and our favorite part: tastes. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying all the delicious treats of the season (& hey, what is January for, if not for resolutions and commitment to healthy choices) and enjoying them is a huge mood booster! Besides there’s nothing like a good bite of your grandma’s famous gingerbread cookies to pull you into the present moment. Instead of piling your plate with everything in sight, slow down. Choose the dishes you really love. Savor every flavor.

cheers holiday partyimage by Kristen Kilpatrick

Take a Break from Social Media

Documenting your little’s expression when they open their gifts, that perfectly decorated gingerbread house and your uncle’s (slightly off-key) rendition of Jingle Bells is totally worth remembering – and fun to share – but often times, we’re sucked into the online social world and pulled out of the moment. This season, choose to enjoy a couple moments just for you and those with you, instead of hitting share. Or get the best of both worlds by getting the shot, but saving and posting AFTER the fact when you have time to step away. 

image by Kristin Kilpatrick

Connect with Someone

During this season we, unsurprisingly, find ourselves rushing from place to place without stopping for air, and one of the easiest ways to check yourself is to plan time to connect with someone in your life. So whether you carve out an hour for coffee with a friend, give your sister a call or plan a just-the-two-of-you date with your significant other, slow down, actively listen and make time for some quality conversation.

image by A Beautiful Mess

Build Intentional Margin in Your Day

It’s so easy to overcommit, which almost always means that you’re giving half of your attention to the task or event at hand and mentally moving ahead to what’s next on the agenda – what you’re bringing to the party next week, when that gift you ordered is arriving, what the menu will be for your big Christmas day feast – forgetting what’s happening around you. Instead, plan a couple spots of bonus unstructured time into your day, whether that’s ten minutes or an hour. You can use that time to step away and catch up on emails, pause for some deep breathing, finalize your meal planning, or sneak away for a refreshing walk around the neighborhood. Plus, margin in your schedule allows you some extra time for that crazy holiday traffic!